How to write a style guide translators will actually read
Note These best practices are for localization managers and coordinators everywhere, but the step-by-step info is for Babble-on clients. Try our free developer portal!
- Style guides are living documents, so we find the best place to story them is online, in something like Google Docs, for example. Easy to update, easy to share.
- The best style guides have bold section headings, and concise descriptions.
- App name
- Product names
- Job titles
- A style guide works best with real-word examples.
- Successful style guides are language-specific. Start with an English style guide for all translators, but adapt it to each language. Your style guide will be “universal” but also “specific” to the languages.
- Pro tip Add a change log to your style guide!
For the most part, you should translate everything you see. There are, of course, some exceptions, because we don't always want to translate certain things because of trademarks or because we advertise them. These may include, but are not limited to, things like app names and product names. So, for example, we wouldn't want…
use informal speech
In most cases we prefer informal writing when talking to customers.
¡Compra ahora¡ NOT Compre ahora
Hola Juan NOT Estimado cliente Juan Delgado
Like in the example above, informal might not mean the same in Spanish as it does in French, where you always use VOUS (formal, technically) for addressing customers. The language might still be “informal” in French, but not the verb form.
Translators will read a style guide before the first job, but as you make changes and additions, it’s hard to motivate translators to re-read the guide. We suggest you include on the first page of the style guide a change log of what has been updated along with the date.20 feb App name may be transliterated in Hindi only.
Each time you do this, I further suggest the changes be visible in a different color, so the translators can read the new style guide information quickly.
Adding a Style Guide to your Babble-on localization projects
Because we think style guides are important for large projects and brands with a unique identity, we've made it easy to add them. Follow these tips from your Babble-on dashboard.
- Log in to your Dashboard in the Babble-on developer portal
- Select Team in the sidebar, and check out the Style Guide section. Press the icon to add a new style guide.
- Choose the language for the style guide, or English for it to be visible to all translators. Then paste in your link and press the button.
- That's it! You can update the link simply by adding a style guide of the same language.
- Remove a style guide entirely by pressing the button.